‘It’s been a rollercoaster’ – Reflective Rafael Nadal opens up on French Open hopes
21-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has opened up on his “rollercoaster” recovery from injury and what he needs to do to in order succeed at the French Open, as he won his first match after his 6-week injury lay off.
The 35-year-old Spanish veteran Nadal won on his return to the ATP circuit at the Madrid Open after defeating Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic in straight sets.
Nadal, who had not played since sustaining a rib-injury in the Indian Wells Masters final, put on an impressive display wrapping up the match in exactly two hours.
The 13-time Roland Garros champion romped to a first set lead blowing away the Serbian to take the first set 6-1.
But Kecmanovic, who has been having a career best season with quarter-final finishes at both the ‘Sunshine Double’ events, showed resilience to break back at 5-6 down to level the set at 6-6 before a forcing a tie-break.
The tie-break was a tightly contested affair, however Nadal put on a typical gritty and determined display, using all of his experience to edge over the line, taking it 7-4.
However, when discussing his road to recovery and his first match back, Rafael Nadal said that despite him being happy with the win, his return to fitness was extremely difficult.
The Majorcan emphasized that he needs to play as many matches as possible to in order for him to be ready for the French Open.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, the Australian Open champion said, “I left the match very, very happy. You have to be sincere with yourself whenever you can.
“You have to be truthful to yourself. My preparation has not existed. You cannot expect great things at the beginning, because before coming here, my first day training was last Thursday.
“If you come back and if you win the first matches, then you’re able to get your rhythm back again. Whereas if you come back and you lose and you lose, you end up in a circle of losing that you don’t get the rhythm of matches.
“So the first matches are key. They have a really big value, and for me this victory is really important for that reason.”, he added.
“Each match helps me regain confidence and movement.
“When I come back from an injury I need to play matches to get back in shape. Winning is always very important because it gives you confidence and security in your body, and I’ve been able to spend one hour and 50 minutes on the court.
“My preparation [for the French Open] is being here and everything is a little more accelerated and unpredictable.
“I’m aware of the condition I’ve come here in, after two months [out]. I come with a lot of enthusiasm and just coming back into shape.
“Playing here at home is unique with the unconditional support of this crowd.
“This year every match I win gives me the opportunity to compete again, which is what I want.”
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